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Speech by Mr. Thomas Wong at the 2017 China-Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) International Exposition in Zhuhai

Speech by Mr. Thomas Wong at the 2017 China-Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) International Exposition in Zhuhai

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, good afternoon and welcome to this afternoon’s seminar on helping Latin American businesses to explore the Chinese market. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Commercial Bureau of Zhuhai Government and the CLAC Expo Committee for inviting me and my accounting firm, CW CPA, to be a part of this event. I am extremely honoured to share some insights with such eminent audience and expert speakers today and share with you my humble views on how we can build stronger linkages and further grow trade and investment through the Greater Bay Area and its benefits to Latin America. Special thanks to some of my friends who are here today, including Mario Leal, former Consul General of Mexico in Hong Kong and Macau, who is our firm’s overseas consultant, and, Jaime Suarez, of the Chinese Colombian Chamber of Commerce. And welcome to all the guests who come here all the way from Latin America.

As many of you know, the global economy’s eastward shift continues, led by the sustained growth of the Mainland of China. As the world’s second-largest economy, the Mainland has contributed more than 30 per cent of global economic growth in the past few years. The Mainland’s Greater Bay Area Initiative is now gathering momentum across the Pearl River Delta Region, aiming at developing and deepening the connectivity with the world – in infrastructure, trade, commerce, capital, culture and more.

How can we make use of this opportunity to set foot in China? From the perspective of a qualified accountant doing business with Latin American people every day, I will take my firm, CW CPA, as an example to illustrate how we collaborate with Latin American companies and how Latin American companies can get support here. I hope my sharing will give you an idea how much Latin American companies love to do business with Hong Kong and Chinese counterparts. As a CPA firm in Hong Kong having a specialized business unit serving Latin American clients, we provide a full range of business services in Hong Kong Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Our multilingual team, including five native Spanish speakers, understands the cultural and business practices of Latin America and China, so we are able to help them make the right decision, create optimal operation structures, manage the risks, reduce the cultural gap and overcome the barriers of language. We are serving over 200 clients from Latin America and Spain. Our Latin American clients wanting to do business in China or with Chinese companies come from various Latin countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and etc.. Their shareholders are SMEs, which represent most of the Latin American businesses. The major business scope of the majority of our Latin American clients in China includes importing and exporting of products like automobile parts, garments and technological products between Mainland China and Latin America. Some offer quality control services for the products manufactured in Mainland China exporting to Latin America.

Recently, we observe a trend that many Latin American companies are now selling their products in China rather than purchasing. Mainland China is focusing on its development model, encouraging domestic consumption and removing the barriers of imports. We are currently helping a leading Latin agri-food company to set up in China. That company, currently exporting fruit, e.g. avocado and blueberries, to China, would like to set up an office to distribute the products and promote their brand name here.

I would like to share a few more examples to showcase how Latin American countries succeed in entering China. One Latin American company specializes in gifts of modernized design and has more than 700 sales spots in the home country. The plan is to source components and products from China and selling to Latin America. To achieve the plan, under our guidance, the company set up a limited company in Hong Kong as an invoicing center, followed by opening a representative office in China through Hong Kong for sourcing and quality control activities before sending the goods to Latin America. After achieving initial success in establishing the presence, the company then set up a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) in China through Hong Kong in order to expand its operations by hiring more foreign and local staff.

Another Spanish speaking client is a fashion designer. We helped it to set up a Hong Kong company and make it a regional distribution centre for Asian markets. At the same time, we helped establish a buying office in Shenzhen for procurement and quality control. We also conducted a market study in China and established relationships with potential business partners. After the business picked up a bit, we restructured the China buying office and transformed it into a selling entity.

Each Latin American company has different goals in entering the Chinese markets. It is essential to understand the best strategy to tackle the market and design a feasible and effective business model. Choosing the suitable and reliable business advisors and partners is very important in such feasibility studies and at all stages of the business processes in China. It is always advisable to hire some staff in China who would offer local administrative support and know the business culture here. It is not easy to achieve commercial success in China but you can always find support from business partners and the Chinese government. Hence, please make use of this expo and connect with more potential partners and government officials. Hopefully the business cards that you exchange these few days will be the seeds that grow into a promising business deal, investment, or simple cooperation. At the very least, I am sure we will all learn something interesting from today’s seminar.

Thank you very much.